John Krasinski gets a taste of parenthood in 'Away We Go'
Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski (Focus Features)
It's about "belonging," deciding "How do we live?" It's about parenting, "a running thread through my movies," says Mendes. He didn't need a parent to play Burt, the insurance futures salesman who sets out with Verona, his pregnant girlfriend (Maya Rudolph), to find a place to raise a child and discover who among their friends, family and acquaintances is the perfect parenting role model. Mendes needed somebody in over his head.
"Should you be answering these basic questions for yourself in your early 20s, which is when people expect you to answer them, or are you 29 and still asking them, like me?" Krasinski wonders. "I have friends in their mid-30s going through the same thing. 'Time to grow up, decide where to live, how to live, how to be a parent.' Getting pregnant's just a catalyst for us to look deeper into ourselves, the state of our life, responsibility, whether or not you're prepared for a child, or being a real grown up."
Burt and Verona meet every parenting extreme, from laissez-faire "free range" parents to smothering ones. For Rudolph, 36, the script was a piece of deja vu.
"All these people offering you obnoxious, unsolicited advice when you're pregnant? It happens," she says. It was her job, as a mom, and that of Mendes, a dad (he has children with his wife, Kate Winslet), to set Krasinski straight on just how on the mark Away We Go's wacky parenting "types" are.
"I'm going through the script saying, 'These are just hijinx. NOBODY'S really like that,'" Krasinski says with a laugh. "But no. There are people who demand that you ALWAYS hold your child -- no strollers. People in the supermarket who hiss at you if you even walk down the alcohol aisle if you're pregnant. I had no idea this stuff goes on."
Rudolph was able to clue Krasinski in on the absurd reality of the script. And the fake belly she wore throughout helped stimulate the chemistry between actors.
"He spent a lot of the movie just taking care of me, in that awful fat suit," she says. "It's 'Are you OK? Have you had something to drink?' Very much the way he'd be if we were a couple." Krasinski isn't letting a movie role rush him into anything. After all, he's a rising star, just now coming into his own on the big screen after making a mark on the small one. But he did find Away We Go to be a good dry run on the sort of father he wants to be.
"To be able to play that focused nervous energy that Burt has was very close to me," Krasinski says. "I think, when I'm a dad for the first time, I'll be way worked up, ahead of the game. Get that baby room up within three days of getting the news. Burt's trying to learn to whittle, even though he doesn't know the word "whittle.' He's going to teach that to his daughter. I get that. I hope someday that I have kids and that I get to teach them to whittle. Because I know the word, even if I don't know how to whittle."